(AP) WASHINGTON — Turkey demanded on Tuesday that the United States condemn the deadly Israeli raid on an aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip that ended with Israeli soldiers killing nine activists.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters ahead of a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Turkey, an unofficial backer of the flotilla, was disappointed with the Obama administration's response to the raid.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said later that Davutoglu did not demand a U.S. condemnation in his meeting with Clinton.
"The secretary reiterated during the meeting what she said afterwards, which is we have to have a careful, thoughtful approach to this going forward," Crowley said.
Crowley called the meeting a "very in-depth discussion" that focused on the Turkish demand that Israel return Turkish citizens and the bodies of those who had been killed. Most of the dead were believed to be Turks.
Davutoglu said that he had scheduled a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on Monday to discuss indirect talks with Syria before Netanyahu canceled his trip Sunday.
The White House has reacted cautiously, asking for disclosure of the full facts about the raid. The killings have put the administration in an awkward position between two allies at a time that it is trying to refocus Middle East peace talks and win new sanctions against Iran in the United Nations Security Council.
In a sign of the sensitivity of the raid on U.S.-Turkish relations, the State Department closed coverage of the meeting to the press. It had previously scheduled a photo opportunity, a venue in which reporters probably would have tried to ask questions.
Before they met, however, Davutoglu was perfectly open about the message he would convey to Clinton.
"I have to be frank: I am not very happy with this statement from Washington yesterday," Davutoglu said. "We expect a clear condemnation."
He said that Turkey, a NATO member, would bring up the issue soon at the security alliance's council.
"Citizens of member states were attacked by a country that is not a member of NATO," he said. "I think you can make some conclusions out of this statement."
Davutoglu said that there was no need to wait for an investigation of the killings, because in Turkey's view the raid was illegal under international law because it happened in international waters.
"This is a criminal act," he said. "We don't need to make an investigation to see this."
Davutoglu also contrasted his criticism of the United States with praise of the statements by the European Union.
Though Turkish-Israeli relations have been rocky for some time, Davutoglu said Turkey had been looking for ways to help facilitate peace talks. He said that he had scheduled a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on Monday to discuss indirect talks with Syria before Netanyahu canceled his trip Sunday.
Davutoglu said that he discussed the raid with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday, and Barak had offered condolences.
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